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This week, Democracy Now! is celebrating our 22nd birthday. Since our first show in February 1996, our daily news hour has brought you fearless journalism and hard-hitting news you can trust--all without ads or corporate underwriting. How is this possible? Only with your support. In fact, if everyone reading this gave just $4, it would cover our operating expenses for the whole year. Right now, a generous donor will TRIPLE every donation, meaning your gift today will go three times as far. Pretty amazing, right? Please do your part. Take a moment to give right now for our 22nd birthday.
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A new report based on top-secret documents from Edward Snowden has revealed how the United States and Britain targeted the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks after it published documents on the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. According to a report co-authored by Glenn Greenwald and published by The Intercept, Britain’s top spy agency secretly monitored visitors to a WikiLeaks site by collecting their IP addresses in real time. Meanwhile, the National Security Agency added WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange to a “manhunting” target list alongside al-Qaeda suspects. The leaked documents also show the United States urged its allies to file criminal charges against Assange over the Afghan War Logs. We’ll be joined by Julian Assange and his attorney, Michael Ratner, after headlines.
In Iraq, a series of deadly car bombings has rocked Baghdad and areas south of it today, one day after another wave of explosions killed at least 24 people. Monday’s blasts in the Iraqi capital included attacks targeting Shiite mosques and the explosion of a bomb-laden minibus.
Police in Thailand have launched an effort to oust demonstrators from protest sites in the capital Bangkok. At least three people have died in the resulting clashes. The government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been embroiled in a political crisis since November with opponents calling for her to resign and be replaced by an unelected council.
In Ukraine, tens of thousands of anti-government protesters have attempted to march on the parliament, sparking clashes with police. Opposition lawmakers, meanwhile, are pushing for changes to the constitution that would curb the power of President Viktor Yanukovych following months of protests over his decision to strengthen economic ties with Russia instead of Europe. Protesters recently ended a nearly three-month occupation of city hall in the capital Kiev as part of an amnesty deal with the government, but they have continued calls for Yanukovych to resign.
In Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro has accused his opponents of mounting a coup amid violent anti-government protests that left at least three people dead last week. Claiming the United States has sided with the opposition, Maduro ordered the expulsion of three U.S. consular officials.
President Nicolás Maduro: “I have ordered the foreign minister of the republic to declare persona non grata and expel the three consulate functionaries of the embassy of the United States of America in Venezuela, that they go plot in Washington, that they leave Venezuela alone.”
Maduro accused the U.S. officials of meeting with students in a bid to stir up unrest. The White House has denied any involvement in the protests. Opposition hardliner Leopoldo López has vowed to turn himself in after holding a final rally today. The government issued an arrest warrant for López last week, accusing him of inciting violence. Maduro has also called on his supporters to rally today.
A United Nations panel has issued a wide-ranging report accusing North Korea of “crimes that shock the conscience of humanity.” Following a year-long investigation, U.N. investigators warned North Korean leader Kim Jong-un he could face responsibility in the International Criminal Court. The human rights abuses detailed by the panel include “extermination,” enslavement, sexual violence, religious persecution, torture and the kidnapping of foreign citizens. Panel chair Michael Kirby described the findings.
Michael Kirby: “What is unique has been the capacity of North Korea to sail under the radar, to avoid international scrutiny, to avoid examination of its record over such a long time, effectively 60 years of very great wrongs against its population, wrongs against the Christian population, wrongs against minorities, wrongs against women. These, in their magnitude, in their gravity and in their number, are truly exceptional.”
In South Korea, a court sentenced an opposition leader to 12 years in prison Monday, accusing him of plotting against the government in favor of North Korea. Lee Seok-ki has rejected the charges against him, saying his trial was part of a government bid to muzzle progressives.
Talks aimed at solidifying a deal over Iran’s disputed nuclear program are opening today in Vienna, Austria. Iran, the United States and five other world powers reached a temporary deal in November requiring Iran to curb uranium enrichment in return for easing crippling economic sanctions. The renewed talks are aimed at establishing a more long-term deal. On Monday, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, accused the United States of hostility toward Iran.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: “The nuclear issue is an excuse for their hostility. Even if the nuclear issue is resolved to the satisfaction of the Americans one day, which is extremely unlikely, another issue will follow again. Just observe now that the U.S. government speakers are raising human rights issues, missile issues, weapons issues and so on. I am surprised the Americans are not ashamed to even talk about human rights.”
Two members of the Russian protest group Pussy Riot, who recently returned from a trip to the United States, have been detained in Sochi, Russia, where the Olympics are underway. Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina spent nearly two years in prison for protesting Russian leader Vladimir Putin inside an Orthodox cathedral. They had planned to stage a protest against Putin in Sochi.
A transgender activist and former member of Italy’s parliament has staged back-to-back actions in support of LGBT rights at the Olympics in Sochi. On Sunday, Vladimir Luxuria was detained after displaying a banner reading “Gay is OK” in the Olympic Park. The next day, she attempted to enter the Olympic hockey arena wearing an elaborate, rainbow headdress and carrying a gay pride flag, and was promptly escorted away. She said she was protesting Russia’s so-called gay propaganda law.
Vladimir Luxuria: “If I stop wearing the colors of the rainbow just because somebody took away a flag from me, that means that these people win. And I don’t want to be guided in my life by fear. I want to be guided in my life by courage, the courage that I always had in my life.”
An Arkansas man is behind bars for allegedly opening fire on a car full of teenagers over the weekend, killing a 15-year-old girl. Police in Little Rock say Willie Noble shot at the teenagers after they dumped eggs and leaves on his son’s car as part of a prank. Fifteen-year-old Adrian Broadway was shot in the head and died. Noble has been charged with first-degree murder.
The oil-rich city of Williston, North Dakota, now has the highest average rent in the United States, surpassing both San Francisco and New York City. Williston is at the center of a boom in domestic oil production fueled by fracking in the Bakken Shale. The population has surged in recent years, with many oil workers unable to find housing. According to the website Apartment Guide, a one-bedroom apartment in Williston now costs nearly $2,400 a month –- almost $900 more than the average in New York City.